In October there were lemons; November brought peaches, and December, pears. She didn’t recognize all the fruit that the trees brought forth, but the smells—oh, the smells! The scents carried her to a different place, deep inside herself. She had been standing there for 12 months but it felt like only a moment. The river flowed strongly but its strength did not diminish its gentleness. Ephie saw children dipping their toes in the water, their mothers washing the grass stains from their white linen shirts a little upstream. They looked happy just being themselves, being together. And then Ephie felt something deep in her belly. It wasn’t the pang of loneliness she was accustomed to when she saw families together; this was different. It was sweeter.
“That’s strange,” Ephie said aloud. She reached up over her head to grab a grapefruit-sized purple fruit dangling above her.
A voice in the air called, “Ephie.”
When she looked around she saw no one. The sun was setting upstream and it cast its golden glow on the surrounding landscape. After a whole year under a single tree, it felt strange to stretch her legs, but the curious girl pressed through the sleepy tingle and started toward the horizon to find out who called her name. There was a group of unfamiliar people just ahead and she was curious if they knew her or her angel companion, Lashta. Speaking of Lashta, she couldn’t remember the last time she had seen him. He usually showed up in circumstances like these. Or at least he had the last few times.
Ephie walked for quite a while but her walking brought her no closer to the people ahead. “They must be walking towards the horizon, too,” she thought. And then she also realized that instead of it getting darker and darker, as it usually does in our world as the sun sets over the horizon as night falls, it was getting a little brighter. This change was barely perceptible at first, but the light was growing stronger.
Ephie turned back to look at the tree she had left, but before she could pick it out from among the line of green landscape behind her, her ears heard that voice again. “Ephie, don’t look back; keep coming.”
She swung around to catch the voice’s owner, but instead a stump in the ground caught her and she fell to the ground. She must have hit her head hard because when her eyes opened again, she wasn’t by the river anymore. It took her a few minutes to realize that she was tucked in her bed. And it hadn’t been twelve months of fruit seasons—more like twelve hours since she crawled into bed the night before. It was morning. The birds were singing outside her flat, and at her side she had a purple piece of fruit lying beside her right hand.